Westford is renowned for the quality of its school system, as recently released MCAS scores can attest. However, there is one metric where Westford’s schools have not done as well as one might expect, at least in the eyes of state officials.
According to data Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), no Westford educators or administrators are considered “exemplary” under Educator Evaluation Framework requirements attached to federal Race to the Top funding.
Following regulations passed by the DESE in 2011, all districts involved in the Race to the Top program need to have at least half of their educators follow the framework, which evaluates professional practices and student learning goals.
Under the DESE definitions for the program, an “exemplary” educator is “consistently and significantly exceeds requirements of a standard or overall” with other ratings including “proficient,” “needs improvement,” and “unsatisfactory.”
While School Superintendent Bill Olsen believes there are many exemplary educators in town, he had concerns over the DESE process and was not yet sure if it would benefit students to pursue possible extra workload for educators to meet that designation.
“The evaluation system in the state was implemented very quickly and there were some issues that we just wanted to take another look at so it just has some meaning to it,” said Olsen. “There are a large number of our staff that we consider exemplary, we just want to set clear guidelines to ensure the proper rigor.”
In Westford, 51.3 percent, or 235 of the district’s 458 educators were evaluated under the guidelines, with 95.7 percent of them being deemed proficient, 2.6 percent being deemed needing improvement and 1.7 percent classified as unsatisfactory.